Here's What Baby-Name Data Says About Our Current (And Next) President

With all the wackiness coming from the Republican presidential field, including but not limited to immigrant "package tracking" and a great Northern wall (ironically, a proposal coming from a white Walker), it's easy to forget that the candidates in this election may be more conventional than their most recent predecessors in one respect: their first names.

Just a few ordinary dudes named Barack, Willard and Abraham

Yes, it will be pretty hard to top the 2012 election between candidates named Barack Hussein Obama and Willard Mitt Romney. According to baby-name data from the Social Security Administration, that contest saw -- for the first time ever -- a matchup between two people whose names did not rank among the top 1,000 baby names during election year. Indeed, Barack and Willard were not in the top 1,000 baby names at any time throughout the century or so that the Social Security Administration has been recording name data. The only other presidential candidate whose name fell outside the top 1,000 during election year was Adlai Stevenson. 

We know that names can have eerie consequences on peoples' lives -- from test performance to the rate at which they donate to disaster relief. But could a particularly presidential name propel a candidate to the Oval Office? Does a more popular name translate to a greater share of the popular vote? Click/touch below to see how ... that's not always the case.


 In head-to-head matchups, candidates with the less popular name were slightly more likely to triumph on Election Day. In an odd twist, no candidate with the more popular name during an election year has prevailed. (Sorry, Sen. Robert M. La Follette!)



Of the clown car's worth of Republicans currently running for president, three have first names that fall outside the top 1,000 of 2014, the last year of data available: Lindsey Graham, Piyush "Bobby" Jindal and Rand Paul. With the exception of Cara "Carly" Fiorina, whose name ranks 672, the rest fall safely within the top 500 baby names of 2014.

Percentage-wise, at least, Democrats can claim to be the party of first-name diversity: out of the five Democrats who have announced their candidacy so far, two -- Bernard "Bernie" Sanders and Hillary Clinton -- possess a name that fell outside the top 1,000 baby names of 2014. Somehow, however, we feel that both would be more like Barack Obama and less like Adlai Stevenson.

Names matter more than you think. For more on the curious science of names, check out the story of how names can determine destiny, as presented by Tito's Handmade Vodka.